For fans, the most obvious contrast has been the alternative green and red colours at the front of the field – but it’s been a different story for the F1 drivers themselves.
For the out-and-out performance of the two safety cars was thrust into the spotlight at the Australian Grand Prix when drivers took aim at the speed of the Aston Martin Vantage.
Frustrated that it was not lapping fast enough for them to keep heat in their tyres, Max Verstappen infamously labelled the green car a ‘turtle.’
“There's so little grip and also the safety car was driving so slow, it was like a turtle. Unbelievable," Verstappen fumed.
Those comments, allied to similar remarks from other drivers including Charles Leclerc and George Russell suggesting the Aston Martin safety car is five seconds per lap slower than the current Mercedes, prompted a swift response from the FIA.
The governing body made clear that the out-and-out performance of the different safety cars was not a criteria it was worried about. For it, the key thing was in the cars helping reduce danger for track officials and drivers in the event of an accident.
But while the FIA is satisfied with the performance of the Aston Martin, it is clear that drivers’ frustrations may not be so easily switched off – especially in races where getting heat into tyres for a restart is of critical importance.
So how do the Aston Martin and Mercedes safety cars compare on the technical front?
Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series
For this year, Mercedes made a jump when it introduced all-new safety and medical cars – which are the most powerful versions there have ever been.
The Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series safety car is a slightly modified version of the track version of the production model.
Changes have been made for practical purposes – like the flashing lights (for aerodynamic reasons integrated into the car rather than as a bar on top), on-board cameras and a cup holder.
But on the technical front, it is pretty much as the track model. Powered by a 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo, its aero, weight and centre of gravity were specially developed for the circuit rather than the roads.
It boasts 720 bhp (537 kW), with some lightweight engineering and active aerodynamics that can change the profile of both the front splitter and the rear wing to reduce drag on the straights and deliver more downforce in the corners.
The track version of the car accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.2 seconds, and boasts a top speed of 325 km/h (202 mph).
Downforce figures estimate that at 200 km/h it produces 249 kg, while at 250 km/h that goes up to 400 kg.
F1’s safety car driver Bernd Maylander has certainly raved about it, admitting that he could not believe how much of a step-forward the 2022 safety car was over its predecessor.
“I’m simply blown away by how close it is to a thoroughbred race car,” he said. “It really is a major step compared to last year’s GT R – which was already at an extremely high level.”
Aston Martin V8 Vantage
Aston Martin’s Vantage safety car is technically upgraded from the original road-going version of the sportscar - but has now been released as a bespoke F1 model.
The 4-litre turbo V8 pumps out 535 PS (528 bhp) – which is 25 PS more than the basic road going car. This gives it an acceleration figure of 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds
With an added front splitter and vaned grille, the Vantage creates 155.6 kg of downforce at 200 km/h, which is 60 kg more than the production car creates at the same speed.
The safety car also features upgraded suspension, steering and dampers, as well as bracing modifications to help with front structural stiffness.
It features its flashing light panel in the more traditional position on top of the roof.
Safety Car Technical Comparison
|Tech Comparison||Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series||Aston Martin Vantage|
|Engine||4-litre twin turbo V8||4-litre turbo V8|
|Horsepower||720 bhp||528 bhp|
|Max Torque||800 Nm||685 Nm|
|Acceleration (0-62mph)||3.2 seconds||3.5 seconds|
|Top Speed||202 mph||195 mph|
|Weight (DIN)||1520 kg||1570 kg|
|Downforce at 125mph||249 kg||155.6 kg|
The Medical Cars
The medical cars of Mercedes and Aston Martin are also no slouches.
The Mercedes GT 63 S 4MATIC+, powered by a 4.0-litre V8 twin turbo produces 470 KW (639 bhp) and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds. Its top speed is 315 km/h (195.7 mph)
The Aston Martin DBX Medical Car has a power output of 550 PS (542 bhp), which launches it from 0 to 62 mph (99.7 km/h) in 4.5 seconds. It has a top speed of 181 mph.